Two in five consumers find discussing their finances makes their heart race or leads to stress according to MoneySuperMarket research.

The company asked consumers to rate a range of financial events on a stress scale of 1 to 10, revealing even day to day matters are causing anxiety and that being unemployed but needing to work to meet bills (8.1) home repossessions (7.7) and evictions (7.7) were rated as the most stressful financial life events.

Whilst 39% said that discussing finances makes their heart race or makes them feel stressed; 52% can find thinking about finances can make them feel anxious

Nearly a third (29%) of consumers constantly checked their bank apps out of anxiety and concerns about job security; nearly a quarter (23%) worried about having a lack of savings for emergencies and 21% of consumers rated the pressure to afford things for their kids as 9 or 10 on stress scale; half of consumers (50%) gave seeing peers earning/spending more than them scores of more than ‘5’ on the stress scale

The research found day to day financial concerns featured highly on the stress scale. 21% of consumers rated the pressure to afford things for kids such as days out, school trips and Christmas presents, 9 or 10 out 10 on the stress scale.  Half of consumers (50%) gave seeing their peers earning and spending more than them a score of more than 5 out of 10; similarly, 52% of consumers gave worrying about the cost of dining out with friends a score of more than 5 out of 10.

20% of consumers had worried about paying for things like Christmas and children’s birthdays, while nearly one in five consumers (18%) admitted to not looking at bills, bank or credit card statements.

The research finds that over half of consumers (52%) responded ‘very true’ or ‘somewhat true’ to the statement that thinking about their finances can make them feel anxious. Similarly over a third (39%) responded ‘very true’ or ‘somewhat true’ to the statement that discussing their finances can make their heart race or make them feel stressed; a further 30% replied in the same manner to the statement that they find opening their bank statements unpleasant.

The research also looked at whether an individual’s attitudes towards money can impact their emotional experience of financial events. To do this, respondents were asked how they viewed money, using four different types of money relationships: money as love and generosity; money as freedom; money as power and status; and money as security. The findings revealed that those who see money as security were associated with lower scores on the index and more likely to have lower money anxiety, while the other three attitudes are associated with higher money anxiety levels.

Sally Francis-Miles, Money Spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said “Money worries often cause anxiety and stress, especially in the current pandemic where entire industries have been forced to shut. There is however rarely a financial situation that is beyond help either through tweaks to cut costs, government support or from debt help charities.”

“The key is regaining control of something you may feel is anything but. And this is the reason we created our money stress tool. If you know your triggers and your relationship with money, you can identify the areas you can make improvements.”

“The starting point is knowing what your incomings and outgoings are. If your outgoings are more than you’ve got coming in, or very close to it, consider ways you can make pain-free savings, such as switching household bills including your energy and broadband or transferring expensive credit card debts to 0% balance transfer deals (typically for a one-off fee, this is subject to passing a credit check tool.”

Professor Mark Fenton-O’Creevy of The Open University, said “Our research shows many of us are more worried about our finances than we might expect – something that has been made worse by the extraordinary times we’re living through.  Reducing financial stress and anxiety is important because it can take a toll on your mental health.  Regaining a sense of control starts with recognizing the problem and understanding the steps you need to take get back on track.”

“Knowing where to get help, planning and budgeting, and understanding how to cut costs are all important. Just as important, though, is to understand your own financial habits and attitudes and where they might get in the way of reducing financial stress.”

“Our survey and previous research shows that people who see money as a source of security and a protection from unexpected events are less likely to get into financial difficulties than those who see it as about power and status, as a source of freedom, or as a way of expressing love.”

Mean score
1 Being unemployed but needing to work to meet bills  8.1
2 Having a house repossessed due to failure to meet mortgage payments 7.7
3 Being evicted due to failure to meet rent payments 7.7
4 Unable to pay a rent or mortgage payment when it was due 7.5
5 Experiencing a major fall in income (e.g. through being made unemployed) 7.4
6 Having possessions seized due to a court order relating to a debt 7.3
7 Having a large unplanned bill to meet 7.3
8 Being made bankrupt, or entering into an Individual Voluntary Arrangement, or similar, due to debts you could not pay 7.3
9 Unable to meet payments on a debt 7.2
10 Regularly worrying about your job security 7.1
Most stressful events experienced by Brits in the past year
1 Constantly checking your banking app out of anxiety as a result of your financial situation 29%
2 Regularly worrying about your job security 29%
3 Having no savings in case of emergencies (e.g. repairing a boiler / car) 23%
4 Having a large unplanned bill to meet 20%
5 Worrying about paying for things like Christmas, children’s birthdays 20%
6 Going on a day out and worrying about the additional expenditure / the cost of eating out 19%
7 Failing to pay off a credit card in full each month 18%
8 Not looking at bills, bank statements or credit card statements because of how they make you feel 18%
9 Regularly spending more than your income 17%
10 Not being able to afford a holiday when everyone else is going away 17%